Catholic schools urge Duterte to veto anti-terror bill

Catholic schools urge Duterte to veto anti-terror bill

Fr. Elmer Jose G. Dizon, President of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines. PHOTO FROM CEAP

By CBCP News

June 8, 2020

Manila, Philippines

The country’s Catholic schools are urging President Rodrigo Dutere not to sign a new measure that they say tramples upon the people’s rights.

In a statement, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines described the anti-terrorism bill as “problematic” because of its many “contentious” provisions.

“We pray that the President heed the cries of our people who are struggling to survive because of the pandemic, and veto this particular version of the bill,” said Fr. Elmer Jose Dizon, CEAP President.

The bill, passed by lawmakers on June 4, allows authorities to detain suspects without charge for up to 24 days, carry warrantless arrests, and detain people for making social media posts critical of the government.

The measure replaces the Human Security Act of 2007, with harsher penalties including life imprisonment without the benefit of parole.

The draft law also creates a new Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), consisting of members appointed by the executive, that would permit authorities to nab people it designates as “terrorists”.

“These are all valid concerns that prompt a re-examination to ensure that the most sacred of freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution are not set aside as empty promises,” the CEAP said.

The group also questioned the inclusion of the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education as “support agencies” of the ATC.

“The CEAP remains firm in safeguarding the constitutionally guaranteed academic freedom of educational institutions and of faculty against any form of suppression,” it added.

CEAP now has about 1,500 members, which include top colleges and universities in the Philippines.